As Tiger Woods tries to maintain his first place position in the fourth round of The Tour Championship on Sunday, September 23, his caddie, Joe LaCava, will be by his side.
Joe LaCava has been Tiger Woods’ caddie since 2011. LaCava took the job following Woods’ less-than-amicable split from his former caddie, Steve Williams, who worked for Woods for more than 13 years.
Before accepting the job as Woods’ bagman, LaCava spent four years as Dustin Johnson’s caddie and, prior to that, he worked for Fred Couples for more than 20 years.
When he’s not carrying Woods’ bag and giving him advice on the course, LaCava, 54, is spending time at his home in Connecticut with his wife, Megan. LaCava and his wife are proud parents to two children, Lauren and Joe LaCava, Jr.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Was Hired by Woods in 2011
LaCava went to work for Woods in 2011 after spending four years working as a caddie for Dustin Johnson. Because of Woods’ limited playing schedule, many wondered if the move was financially smart for LaCava.
“Woods, even when fully healthy, plays a limited schedule. The question is whether Woods can make this a profitable move for LaCava. Woods hasn’t won in more than two years on the PGA Tour, and he did not qualify for the FedExCup playoffs this year, mainly because he missed nearly four months with an injury,” the Associated Press reported.
LaCava evidently thought that the move was smart and inked a deal with Woods. The golfer posted the news on his website shortly thereafter.
“This was an important decision, and I wanted to think about it carefully. Also, out of deference for the FedExCup Playoffs, I decided to wait until they were concluding to have substantive talks. We then spoke to Joe and came to an agreement. Joe is an outstanding caddie, and I have known him for many years. I’ve personally seen the great job he did for Freddie (Couples). I’m anxious for us to be working together,” Woods wrote on his website at the time.
LaCava’s decision to caddy for Woods was a fairly simple one. When asked why he decided to do so (and so quickly), he responded, “Because he’s Tiger Woods. It’s a no-brainer. That’s my thought. It’s Tiger Woods, right?”
At the time, many wondered if Johnson was upset that LaCava left him to work for Woods, but Johnson cleared those rumors up when asked about them during the European Tour.
“I spoke to Tiger about it. There’s no hard feelings at all,” he told the Associated Press at the Dunhill Links Championship.
When Woods was injured in 2017 and wasn’t playing much, he told LaCava to go out and get another gig, but LaCava refused, showing that he was completely loyal to Woods.
“We had a nice long talk beginning of this year when I couldn’t play, and I told him, ‘Hey, if you want, I can go out and get you a bag. Get one of these top young upcoming guys and you can go out and caddie for them.’ He says, ‘No no, I’m committed to you. I’m committed to your return and you playing golf again.’ And I said, ‘Well I understand that, but I don’t know when that is or if that’s even going to happen, so let me help you get another bag.’ But he just keeps saying no,” Woods explained to Geno Auriemma during a podcast last year. You can listen to that podcast below.
2. Details of His Contract Are Unclear, But It’s Believed He Makes an Excellent Salary
It’s no secret that Woods is the highest all-time earner in golf, which suggests that his caddie is well taken care of, financially speaking.
While each caddie-player contract might be different, there is a traditional pay rate. According to Forbes, “established players pay around 8 percent of winnings and 10% for a win to their caddie, according to James Edmondson, who is president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies and loops for Ryan Palmer.”
Additionally, most caddies “make $1,500 to $2,500 per event in base pay,” and can earn anywhere from $30,000 to $200,000 annually from endorsement deals. LaCava is believed to be on the high end when it comes to endorsements.
According to ESPN, it’s possible that LaCava made well over $1 million in 2012-2013, based on Woods’ wins alone.
And while Woods hasn’t played as much in recent years, LaCava has no plans of jumping ship. In fact, he admits that Woods has been “great” to him.
“I’m with my guy all the way, so it’s that more than anything else. I’m all-in with him. He has been great to me,” he told ESPN last month.
3. He Caddied for Fred Couples for More Than 20 Years
LaCava and Couples had a very strong bond and their partnership lasted more than 20 years. Over the course of those two decades, LaCava was part of Couples’ 12 victories. The biggest of those wins was the Masters in 1992 and Players Championship in 1996, according to ESPN.
As time went on, LaCava found himself sitting out of tournaments when Couples was sidelined with back issues. It was during this time that LaCava started caddying for other players, including Mark Calcavecchia and Mike Hulbert.
LaCava and Couples parted ways in 2011 — and it was Couples’ idea. According to ESPN, Couples encouraged LaCava to caddy for a younger player. LaCava heeded Couples’ advice and signed on to work for Dustin Johnson. The move was a good one for LaCava, as Johnson won the Barclays later that year.
In 2012, Couples admitted that he missed LaCava.
“I miss Joe, sure. Joe was a sport nut, like me, and he made the day a lot easier,” he told NBC Golf.
4. He Lives in Connecticut With His Wife & Kids
When LaCava isn’t course-hopping with Tiger Woods, he’s spending time at home with his family. He and his wife, Megan, have called Connecticut home for the past several years.
Back in 2014, LaCava spoke with the New Haven Register about how he had been spending the downtime while Woods was recovering from surgery.
“I enjoy watching my kids’ games and doing some stuff around the house and playing a little golf. It’s fun to be home. I don’t watch a lot of golf. I’m not one to sit around and watch TV. All my TV watching starts with the (New York) Rangers this time of year,” he told the outlet.
At the time, his daughter, Lauren, was in high school. She graduated and went on to study at Endicott College. Meanwhile, his son, Joe, played varsity football at Pomperaug High School. Joe graduated from high school last year and is currently attending James Madison University.
5. He Beat Woods in a Game of H.O.R.S.E.
While his golf game might not be up to par with Woods, LaCava knows that he can beat his boss in H.O.R.S.E. (and he did so, nine times in a row). In a 2017 interview with Inside the Ropes on Sirius XM, LaCava exercised his bragging rights.
“The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he’d go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3. But it’s harder obviously to make a 3, and I’d go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn’t make it,” LaCava said.
And Woods wasn’t too happy about losing to LaCava.
“He did not talk to me the rest of the day. I didn’t even get the old text, ‘Dinner is ready,’ because I stay across at the beach house. I didn’t even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn’t announce he wasn’t (talking), he just did it. I’m telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he’s so competitive, even at something like that,” he said.
You can listen to that interview below.